Attend [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.” ~Thomas Merton, Love and Living

I had an odd-thought-revelation as we drove into the parking lot of the Hospice Alliance. We were there to make a donation. In cleaning out the house, Kerri found several throw-blankets. She washed and freshened them, preparing them for donation. In a past life she was a volunteer at the Alliance and wanted the blankets to go where they would be the most useful, provide the most comfort.

My mom tells me that my dad’s last days were lovingly tended by amazing hospice caregivers. His passage was eased by their guidance and attention. In some small way, the blanket donation felt like a thank-you-note. I was not present in his final weeks and it brought me comfort knowing he was in the care of such extraordinary people.

And that was the seed of my odd-thought-revelation. As we pulled into the parking lot, on the first bright sunny day in weeks, I stepped out of the car and turned my face to the sun.

In the warmth I understood that we are all in hospice care. Our time is limited. Every single moment is precious. Every single moment is shared. We’d do better if we realized it. We’d do better if we attended to each other, to relieve pain and suffering, to pay attention to the quality of each and every life in our passing moment. In our tender and oh-so-temporary lives.

read Kerri’s blogpost about BLANKETS

Re-Connect [on Merely A Thought Monday]

The latest addition to my “Terms in this Unknown Land” document is TL;DR. Too-Long-Didn’t-Read. I laughed aloud when I heard this new acronym in a meeting. If there is a sign of our times, an identifying marker of our era, it is this: TL;DR.

We communicate through text and emoji. Chat. Twitter is a thing because it mandates brevity. Scrolling the news app is a study in cramming the full story into a brief headline. Marketers have mastered the 5 second ad. Businesses are liberal in their use of “narrative” and “story” but have no time to actually hear one. A short synopsis will have to do. Get to the point.

As a member of my culture I find that I scan more than I read. If I can find it on Youtube, I’d rather watch it than read about it. When I began writing blogposts ten years ago, the “rule” was 800 words or less. The rule has adjusted with our attention spans and now the target is between 400 and 600 words. Often, when I receive links to articles, they come complete with an estimate of how many minutes are required to read them. Yesterday, I read advice from a marketing guru that suggested we restrict paragraphs to two sentences or less; more than two sentences is a red flag: too much information. Less than two sentences is…a sentence.

So much information is coming at us all the time, we have no time or thought-space to take it all in. I wonder if we can discern relevance from dreck. A quick look at our leaders leaves me with a resounding “No!” Relevance is lost in the dreck and, since they represent us, they are us, our information inundation has rendered our attention spans tiny and blunted our acuity. We are awash in information while wisdom has gone missing.

Each week I attend meetings; the central concern is explicitly or implicitly about helping people connect. It reminds me of the conversations I heard in graduate school: while living in a city of a million people, the concern was about how to create community. So many people. So little community.

I ponder these things every day. With our ubiquitous technology, we couldn’t be more connected. Through social media, I know what people had for dinner or what cute thing the kids said. I receive advertising that confirms my devices are listening to me. Yesterday, for-the-hell-of-it, I said, “Machu Picchu.” Today I am awash in travel ads for Peru.

We are connected. Connection to everything is connection to nothing. Relevance is hard to discern in a tsunami of information masking as connectivity.

Relationships – real relationships – take time. Values cannot be communicated in a text. They must be demonstrated and deeply rooted in lived narrative. Stories that carry relevance cannot be well-told in synopsis. Opinions are so easy to tweet. Dreck is easy to fling. It is not the capacity to share that we lose in the crush. It is not connection. It’s the capacity to be present. With presence comes the capacity to listen. Presence is not in a hurry to be some other place.

Rich connectivity requires more than quick consumption of information. Sharing, real sharing, the kind beyond pressing a “send” button, is a two-way street between people who have the time to invest in each other. Once, it was called relationship.

TM;CL. Too much. Can’t listen.

read Kerri’s blogpost about TL;DR

Try To Disappear [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

“There will be days that you know you simply cannot win. The best thing to do when you find that you are standing in a no-win situation, is to vigorously wave your white flag and surrender to your fate as gracefully as possible.” ~ Quinn (not an exact quote)

“To keep your mouth closed and say nothing is trouble for sure. To say anything in this moment – anything at all – is the road to tribulation. There is only one thing to do. Feign a slipped disk. Crumple to the ground in desperate pain. Seek theatrical escape!” ~ the only advice my inner Confucius offered in my moment of need.

“This world is crazy. It makes no sense.” ~ Sterling Brown, This Is Us.

read Kerri’s blogpost on this Saturday Morning Smack-Dab.

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Drop And Roll [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

If you want to see me go primal, all you need do is hang out with me when there’s lightning. One hot flash of light ripping across the sky and I wince, drop, and roll. I enjoy thunder. Lightning, not so much.

The first time Kerri saw my lightning-behavior, we were on a walk when a storm blew in. There was no time between the violent white flash and cannon-style-boom. “It’s just lightning,” she said as I attempted to make myself a smaller target. We ran home. Well, in truth, I grabbed her arm and pulled so hard she had no choice but to fly along (giggling) with her manly-man bobbing and weaving to avoid imminent electrocution.

Even within the safety of the house, I will wax poetic about the beauty and wonders of thunder but add a dash of lightning and I lose all artistry. I dip into my animal brain. I’m happy to admit that, when there’s lightning and you want to find pants in our family, go find Kerri. You’ll find me under the bed with Dogga.

read Kerri’s blogpost about LIGHTNING

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Say It Again [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

First, I’ve never heard Kerri use the words “gollygee” or “schnuckums” though, I am wildly impressed that in a single thought-bubble she managed to include both. Now, as all challenges go, I am dedicated to using them three times a day over the next week so I can incorporate them into my vocabulary. “Gollygee, schnuckums, I think I’ll take out the trash.”

I am guilty of applying the word “antiques” to us and much of our day-to-day surroundings. Kerri gives me “that” look every time I suggest that we are chickens-not-of-the-spring. I never suspected that, behind “that” look, was such a benign phrase. Gollygee, schnuckums. I imagined the phrase running through her mind was something more sailor-ish. Salty. Not recommended for public hearing.

Gollygee, schnuckums. An antique phrase. Benign, with hints of tired pleasantry. Love with overtones of irony. Proof positive that our corningware and mixing bowls are properly matched with the era of their users.

And, aren’t you impressed? I used Gollygee, schnuckums three times in a single post. This challenge is going to be a snap!

(*If I go silent, if I suddenly disappear from earth, you’ll know that I used my new phrase one too many times. Don’t blame her. As usual, I will have done it to myself)

read Kerri’s thoughts on this saturday morning smack-dab.

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Snore and Deny [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Although we may have led you to believe otherwise, these characters are fictitious. Especially the man. He’s a product of imagination and has no bearing on reality. Any resemblance is purely coincidental and, since I never snore, there’s no chance of coincidental resemblance. None. Nope.

Now, if the woman in the cartoon snored, well…

read Kerri’s blog post about CHAINSAWS

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Trip And Trip Again [on KS Friday]

One of the advantages of having stepped in every pothole, tripped on every cobble, and made every mistake at least twice, is that I’ve learned about potholes, cobbles, mistakes, tripping and stepping where I ought not step. If I could boil down to the essence the single thing I’m beginning to grok it is this: life is not elsewhere.

I laughed aloud when I at last I realized the absurdity of “practicing mindfulness” as if it was something to achieve. Mindfulness arrives when the practice stops. Of course. Meditating for self-improvement, I’ve read, is a uniquely Western oddity. “Trying” to be present is ridiculous if you think about it. You are present. What else? Because your mind is running amok does not actually magically transport you to the past or the future. You are present with a mind that is running amok. Minds are like puppies: chase them and they run away. Stand still and they will eventually come to you.

Is any of this pothole wisdom helpful? Absolutely not. Like mindfulness, wisdom arrives when the obsession with knowledge-for-betterment ceases. I’ll let you know what that looks like when I stop trying to attain it. There’s no end to the tripping stones. I’ve learned that, too. Again and again. And again.

The best things in life are not achievements. They are relationships. Me to you. Me to me. Me to the world I am passing through, one moment at a time. With you. Stand still in the moment – you might as well since it is where you are – and you’re libel to experience all manner of beauty.

read Kerri’s blog post about SNOWFLAKES

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes and streaming on Pandora

kindred spirits…away/released from the heart © 1995 kerri sherwood

Speak Double Speak [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

I’m a big-picture-guy. Kerri is a detail-girl. And, although that sounds like a great country music lyric, it makes for some interesting conversations. We can talk about the same thing and never know it. Or, we can talk about diametrically opposed points of view and think we’re in utter agreement.

With my head in the clouds, I often have to talk things out. Sense-making happens for me when I can get thoughts out of my head via my mouth. One day, a few years into our relationship, while I was in mid-yammer, Kerri looked at me and said, “Gear down.” It had never occurred to me that I might have to find a lower gear when climbing steep-thought-grades. “Gear down” has become a relationship-saving-shorthand.

Her other defense mechanism is to tune me out. I know I need to stop-talking when I see white noise behind her eyes. When I try to pull her into my hot air balloon for a higher view, her detail mind has learned to spin the knob and find another station.

I float to the sky and look at the future. She drops roots into the moment. It’s a wonder that she hasn’t smothered me with her pillow or pushed me out of the car.

read Kerri’s blog post on this saturday morning smack-dab.

smack-dab. © 2021-2 kerrianddavid.com

Decide To Learn [Flawed Wednesday]

[No image today. My technology is having a rough morning]

I spent my day yesterday thinking about lines of perception. I’ve known for a long time that where a focus is placed will largely determine the dynamic reality, the movement, that is created. For instance, a focus on opposition will always produce a chaotic, explosive pattern. The moving energy locks up, tension builds, explosion. Repeat again and again. Focus on the relationships, the spaces between, and the movement, the energy, will harmonize around a common center. The behavior of a system is visible if you know where to look.

Points. Spaces between. Analytics or Synthesis? Break it into parts or look at the whole. Is it a particle or a wave? Both/And.

Tom used to say, “Teaching is a relationship.” It’s not about the material-to-be-covered. It’s never about the test. It’s always about the spaces between. Learning, at its best, is not about coverage. It’s about incorporation. It’s about meaning made from relevant experience. Experiences made relevant.

Every action has an intention, even if the intention is to stir the pot, to see what happens.

A few blocks from our home, outside the courthouse, protestors face each other across a perceptual dividing line. The energy is locking up. Tension is building. Last year a boy, too young to legally order a beer in a bar, legally brought a big gun to a protest. His mom brought him to the protest, big gun and all. He killed two people and maimed a third just a block or two from where he now stands trial. In the year since, he has been made a symbol, a well-financed icon of those who desire a dividing line. The pressure builds, just as the system demands. We await the explosion. It will be here, a few blocks away, or elsewhere, but it is coming just as the system requires.

There’s a less understood truism when the focus is placed on the points & oppositions: the tension builds and the explosion happens again and again because no one ever learns. It’s a repetitive pattern that perhaps feels like progress but is actually an eddy. Empty movement.

The only way out of the eddy is to attend to the relationships, to turn the focus to the spaces between.

read Kerri’s blog post about DIVIDING LINES

Obsess [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

I’d never heard of Munchos until I met Kerri. I’d never pulled all of chip bags off the shelf at a store in search of Munchos until I met Kerri. I’d never been escorted out of a store by the police because of a Muncho search until I met Kerri. And, to make this fun, only two of the last three statements is actually true. Let me just add that the police were kind. Evidently, the officers that came that day appreciated Munchos as much as Kerri.

In reviewing the past several weeks of Smack-Dab, I see how snack-driven we really are. I’d have denied it outright before today. Dogga is completely food driven and you know what they say about people and their dogs. Dogga was in the car during our Munchos near-incarceration. He pretended that he didn’t know us though his deniability was questionable since he was in our car and had a collar with our phone number chiseled into it. The police were kind though. They cautioned him to keep a better eye on us and to forbid us from going back into the market. And then, they gave him a treat. Not a Muncho-treat. Those were nowhere to be found.

read Kerri’s blogpost about MUNCHOS!

smack-dab. © 2021 kerrianddavid.com